MSc/MFA Dance Science

"Trinity Laban's MSc produces graduates who contribute significantly to the growing field of dance science through their research, practice and teaching both nationally and internationally."

Emma Redding, Head of Dance Science

Trinity Laban was the first to offer an MSc Dance Science globally and today remains a vibrant, international hub for research and education. Our Head of Dance Science, Emma Redding, is a present member of the Board of Directors, and a past president, of the International Association for Dance Medicine and Science (IADMS) (2013-2015). Our Masters is the ideal choice for increasing your knowledge of the body's possibilities and limitations, and investigating the science behind the artistry of dance.

Dance Science can be undertaken as an MSc (one year) or, in a programme new this year, as an MFA (two years), with the second year dedicated to research. NB: Participants on the MSc programme can transfer to the MFA programme subject to application, and this should be discussed with the Programme Leader before completion of the 4 taught modules.

Our carefully devised programmes examine qualitative and quantitative aspects of dance practice through a range of scientific disciplines. Application of theory to dance practice is essential at Trinity Laban, and Dance Science is no exception. Sessions frequently take place in the dance studio or involve practical and hands-on experience with testing equipment in the lab.

As a Dance Science graduate, you will be equipped for working in a range of applied and research settings, such as: professional dance companies, teaching or lecturing, or progressing to further research.

"This MSc and the students that have taken part are a major reason for the growth of the field of Dance Science. The number of roles the MSc graduates are fulfilling in teaching and education is amazing - they're enhancing performance, supporting professional dancers, and carrying out research. This is so important in our efforts to improve dance performance, optimise career potential and prevent dance injury." Helen Laws, Manager, National Institute of Dance Medicine and Science

Why Are Our Programmes Different?

MSc & MFA Dance Science Programmes Provide:

  • A unique opportunity to investigate somatic approaches to dance training within an interdisciplinary scientific perspective.
  • Taught programmes that culminate with a 6-week intensive module which will allow you to apply your dance science knowledge and skills to one dancer from another programme at Trinity Laban.
  • Specialist facilities, including a versatile testing laboratory which sits alongside Trinity Laban's Health Department and Pilates studio.
  • A culture of high calibre conservatoire dancers, meaning over 300 potential research participants who are all committed to becoming professional dancers and choreographers.
  • Crossover with other students at Trinity Laban: research methodologies is undertaken with MA students
  • Our in-house Dancer Screening gives you a great opportunity to be involved in live data collection and gain valuable experience of working as a dance scientist while you study.
  • Links to professional companies and organisations so you can participate in larger research projects and network for future opportunities.

Student Testimonial

Seema Chopra, Alumna MSc Dance Science

Programme Content

Year One (MSc and MFA)

Our programmes explore interdisciplinary elements of dance science, such as physiology, biomechanics, psychology, motor learning and somatics. They explore the scientific issues underlying dance performance, technical training, and dancer health and injury prevention, looking at ways to optimise the body's performance, improve training techniques and enhance performer potential. The programmes examine the qualitative and quantitative aspects of dance practice, introducing elements from a range of scientific disciplines and applying them to a dance context.

M502A Research Lab
M568 Performance Enhancement: Physiology, Biomechanics, Psychology
M567 Embodied and Applied Practices
M565 Whole Dancer Study
M505A Project (MSc only)

Please note that these programmes focus on research and application of knowledge to a dance setting and do not qualify you as a specified practitioner, such as a physical therapist, nutritionist, or psychologist. Some graduates choose to pursue specific study or training following their Masters, others already hold practitioner status and wish to apply their previous knowledge to a dance-specific setting by enrolling on Dance Science.

Technical training is not provided within the programme. You are welcome to attend dance technique classes at Trinity Laban upon payment of a supplementary fee to cover direct teaching costs. Alternatively, you can attend evening classes offered by the Schools & Community department. A range of professional classes is also offered at our partner organisation Greenwich Dance located a 15 minutes walk away.

The MSc and the first year of the MFA commence in September each academic year, and continue until September of the following year (12 months) for full-time students.

The MSc can be taken part-time, commencing with registration in September in Year 1, and continuing until the end of the second term (Spring term). Study commences in the following September for 12 consecutive months until completion of the Project at the beginning of September the following year.

Year Two (MFA Only)

The second year of MFA Dance Science consists of the Extended Project module, and is characterised by self-directed research, experimentation, and reflection in the creation of a substantial and thoroughly researched piece of work. The MFA programme may only be taken full-time.

Programme Specification

For further detail about both MSc and MFA Dance Science have a look at our current Programme Specification (correct for academic year 2016-17).

Programme Aims

MSc & MFA Dance Science

  • To develop an advanced theoretical knowledge of key areas of dance science and master the skills to translate that knowledge into practice.
  • To provide an in-depth comprehension of scientific method as it relates to dance in a variety of contexts.
  • To develop a high level of critical and analytical skills in examining complex, incomplete or contradictory areas of knowledge.
  • To foster an understanding of the importance of an interdisciplinary approach to examining health and wellbeing of dance practice and performance.
  • To engage with complexities of integrating embodied and scientific practices.
  • To expose students to professional dance science experiences in both laboratory and field-based settings.
  • To produce graduates who can engage with and contribute towards the continually developing field of dance science research and application.

What Do I Need To Apply?

MSc Dance Science

You should normally have professional dance, movement theatre or performance experience, and/or successfully completed a UK undergraduate degree in an appropriate or related subject, or hold an overseas award of equivalent standard (e.g. USA degree - GPA 3.00 or above).

MFA Dance Science

Applicants are expected to have an appropriate first degree (or equivalent qualification).

Applicants are required to submit an initial project proposal, outlining the following:

  • The reasons they wish to carry out an independent project over one academic year.
  • Their suitability for extended independent research in the context of an MFA Dance Science.
  • The nature of their intended research and a draft projected timeline with indicated outputs of research (which is understandably subject to change).

An interview (phone/Skype interview is acceptable) will also be required.

Applicants for whom English is not their first language should demonstrate proficiency in English equivalent to IELTS 7.0. The Trinity Laban website provides guidance on the standard expected by reference to acceptable English Language qualifications.

In addition, meeting external requirements of UK Visas and Immigration is essential.

What Can I Do Next?

Graduate destinations are testament to the integrity and quality of the Dance Science programmes. Year on year, graduates are successful at obtaining employment within the field as researchers, lecturers, consultants and dance science advocates, with several graduates now leading similar postgraduate programmes at other HE institutions.

Graduate destination statistics for 2012-13 evidence 10 out of 19 graduates (52.6%) were employed while 3 out of 19 (15.8%) were undertaking further study. Graduates are working as interns for Trinity Laban and at University of California Irvine and many graduates are lecturing at FE and HE institutions such as University of Roehampton, New Bucks University, Royal Academy of Dance, and Texas A & M University, among others.

Several graduates hold health and education positions within organisations and training schools such as Dance UK, London School of Contemporary Dance, Boston Ballet and The Juilliard School. Three graduates of the Trinity Laban MSc have held the post of Healthier Dancer Programme Manager at Dance UK since 2011, and several graduates also successfully pursued onward study at doctorate level at various institutions. In the past five years, four graduates have enrolled on the Research Degree Programme at Trinity Laban, one of whom was awarded a fully funded studentship as part of a larger project grant from The Leverhulme Trust, and another has been awarded an ESRC PhD studentship for the University of Bath. In 2015, The National Theatre, the Barbican, and English National Opera each appointed one of our graduates as a data scientist. Their jobs were to investigate patterns in the organisations customer and audience behaviour, in order to develop the business opportunities and further development of these UK National Arts Organisations. In 2013, two recent graduates created an online Facebook group entitled Dance Science Study UK, which has over 700 members and is still growing. The intention of this group is to cultivate an informal online environment that brings together individuals currently pursuing, or interested in pursuing, Dance Science as a study or career path. 

Trinity Laban Dance Science graduates have also been appointed to other significant posts, for example at the Harkness Centre for Dance Injuries in New York, and in full-time Dance Science teaching positions in Further and Higher Education. Others continue their studies, for example in Laban Movement Analysis (LMA) as Assistants in Dance Health departments.

Alumni and the International Association for Dance Medicine and Science

Trinity Laban is well represented at the Annual Meeting of the International Association of Dance Medicine and Science, with both staff and alumni as delegates and presenters each year. This year, the International Association of Dance Medicine and Science celebrated the 25th Annual Meeting in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to which the Dance Science faculty at Trinity Laban made an outstanding contribution.

Emma Redding (Head of Dance Science) delivered a presentation entitled, Dancer Aerobic Fitness: Ten Years On, which reported on over 1000 dancers’ fitness capacities over the last decade as well as a presentation entitled, The Role of the Screen at the Clinical Colloquium Day for doctors. Emma also delivered a professional development workshop as part of ‘A Day for Teachers’ entitled, Putting the Science to Work in a Class: The Importance of Fitness and Conditioning for Dance. Trinity Laban Health Physiotherapist Katy Chambers gave a presentation entitled, A study of the efficacy of suboccipital release compared to proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation in hamstring extensibility in dancers. PhD student, Lucie Clements, who is also part of the TL Imagery research study, In the Dancer’s Mind, gave a presentation entitled, Autonomy, relatedness, competence and the immune response in a ballet and contemporary dance school. A number of recent TL graduates were present at the conference; a total of twelve presentations were led by MSc Dance Science graduands - the largest number from the same institution - these included research from David Outevsky, Siobhan Mitchell, Sarah Beck and Jillian Descoteaux. Faculty members Edel Quin (Programme Leader, MSc Dance Science), Sonia Rafferty (Senior Lecturer in Dance) and alumnus Charlotte Tomlinson’s  new textbook received much interest on sale at the conference via the publisher, Human Kinetics. Further to this, many current MSc Dance Science students and MSc Dance Science graduands attended the conference.

In Basel 2014, more than three dozen Trinity Laban students, graduates and staff were present. In the past five years, four graduates have been awarded the Student Research or Poster Presentation Award.

Graduate Research

In addition to international conference presentations, students and graduates are publishing their module and thesis projects in academic journals. In 2012-13, more than 10 articles from staff and graduates were published in academic journals such as British Journal of Special Education, Sport, Exercise and Performance Psychology, Clinical Rheumatology and Human Movement Science, Journal of Dance and Somatic Practices, and the Journal of Dance Medicine and Science. The Programme Leader, in collaboration with two MSc graduates, recently authored the first textbook on Safe Dance Practice from an applied dance perspective, published by Human Kinetics (2015). All of the above evidences the Programme’s success in preparing graduates as leading contributors to the field of dance science. 

Dance companies and schools in Britain, Europe and throughout the world are beginning to appreciate the benefit of employing a regular Dance Scientist/Physiologist, Psychologist, or fitness and dance expert who can help devise more effective training programmes for their dancers, and give advice about injury prevention, nutrition and dance psychology.

There are many opportunities for MSc graduates either in academia as lecturers, course and programme leaders, and researchers, or in the dance profession as dance educators, better informed dancers and dance teachers, dance science coaches, and dance company physiologists and psychologists. There are also teaching opportunities in commercial fitness centres, and a post graduate degree can help develop your managerial potential.

A reference list of graduate publications, posters and presentations is available here.

  • MSc Full-time: 11 months, plus an independent research project (2 months)
  • MSc Part-time: 21 months, plus an independent research project (2 months)
  • MFA Full-time: 2 years (no part-time option)

You should normally have professional dance, movement theatre or performance experience and/or successfully completed a UK undergraduate degree in an appropriate or related subject; or hold an overseas award of equivalent standard (eg USA degree - GPA 3.00 or above).

MSc Dance Science

Assessment tasks include written assignments, oral presentations, other supporting media and an independent research project.

MFA Dance Science

Assessment tasks include scientific lab reports, critical conceptual investigations, development of performance enhancement strategies, developing a project proposal and a statistics exam.

Assessment modes include written, oral and poster presentations.

Dance companies and schools in Britain, Europe and throughout the world are beginning to appreciate the benefit of employing a regular Dance Scientist/Physiologist, Psychologist or fitness and dance expert who can help devise more effective training programmes for their dancers and give advice about injury prevention, nutrition and dance psychology.

There are many opportunities for Dance Science graduates either in academia, as lecturers, course and programme leaders and researchers, or in the dance profession as dance educators, better informed dancers and dance teachers, dance science coaches, and dance company physiologists and psychologists.

Some graduates have obtained research funding from academic institutions and other public funding bodies and are now working as researchers. There are also teaching opportunities in commercial fitness centres, and a postgraduate degree can help develop your managerial potential.

Trinity Laban Dance Science graduates have been appointed to significant posts, for example at the Harkness Centre for Dance Injuries in New York, and in full-time Dance Science teaching positions in Further and Higher Education. Others continue their studies, for example in Laban Movement Analysis (LMA) as Assistants in Dance Health departments.

Research Degree Programme

PhD and MPhil research

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